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Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Advanced Control Systems for Intelligent Coordination of Manipulation and Grasping in Nuclear Robotics

Department of Engineering

Applications accepted all year round Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Dr Allahyar Montazeri

A fully-funded PhD studentship is available for an outstanding graduate with specific interest on robotics, control as well as image processing techniques. The project is in close collaboration with the industry partner to develop a novel advanced control system for intelligent coordination of hand and eye in a hydraulic nuclear manipulator. The main objective is to develop a system that addresses the inherent uncertainty in the nuclear industry case study environments for applications such as welding, pipe cutting and material discrimination. Engineering research at Lancaster University has been rated as world-leading in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) and you will join a dedicated team of scientists working on a range of exciting topics in robotics.

Increasing the autonomy of nuclear robots is one of the key factors to improve decommissioning performance and reduce the dependency of the remotely controlled system by the human operator. This is due to the complex manipulation capabilities that require the robot to interact with objects and environment forcefully by pushing, cutting, shearing, grinding in addition to easier pick-and-place tasks.

In this project, we address the above-mentioned challenges by design and development an advanced control system which combines the information from the smart end-effector tool with the control system designed for the manipulator for a coordinated and intelligent grasping and manipulation.

The system that will be developed in this research consists of two major subsystems. The end-effector subsystem which includes the hardware and algorithms designed to recognise the material of the object aimed for grasping and the manipulation subsystem which consists of a vision system combined with a novel multivariable control system resulting in a high precision visual-serving system.

Although the size and shape of the object are identified by the camera in the manipulator subsystem, the material is recognized through the end-effector subsystem. The approach here is to propose a multi-modal sensing system by using various sensors in the end-effector tool. It is envisaged to achieve a fast and accurate classification rate for a range of materials by fusing these measurements using iterative machine learning algorithms. Combining this information with the vision system in the manipulation subsystem generates the desired force for interaction with the object. Furthermore, the vision system is used to identify the position of the end-effector and move the arm towards the object. This is carried out by further investigating the advanced control system developed for this purpose to improve its performance and combine it with the visual information provided by the camera in real-time.

Eligibility Criteria

-Potential candidates for this position are expected to have the following qualifications:

•Should have or expect to achieve a first-class or upper second-class degree in Engineering at the level of MSc, MEng, etc or a lower second with a good Master’s, (or overseas equivalents) in a relevant subject.

•Sufficient background on control theory, image processing or a closely related discipline.

•Practical experiences on the implementation of the control algorithms.

•Computer programming skills such as MATLAB are essential for the post.

•You should have excellent interpersonal skills, work effectively in a team and have experience of the preparation of presentations, reports or journal papers to the highest levels of quality.

•The suitable candidate should also have been resident in the UK for at least 4 years immediately before taking up the position.

To declare your interest and for further information, please send a copy of your CV along with the cover letter to Dr Allahyar Montazeri ().

The formal application should be made via the Lancaster University online portal once it is reviewed and considered for the position.

Funding Notes

The funding is available for UK/EU students; however, international students could also apply under circumstances. A full standard studentship consists of tuition fees, together with a maintenance grant and research training support. The funding is for 3.5 years and will pay a stipend that is £2K above the standard UKRC rate.

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